"USDA Offers Farmers More Money To Idle Sensitive Land"

"U.S. officials said on Friday they would offer higher payments to certain owners of environmentally sensitive farm land if they idle it in a conservation program instead of using it to grow crops."

"The offer from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is an attempt to slow an exodus of millions of acres from conservation programs at a time when high crop and land prices are enticing farmers to put the land into production. Increased payments will be available to owners of up to 1 million acres of the highly sensitive grasslands and wetlands under a new initiative that is part of the federal Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP.

The move solidifies a shift in the government's strategy to protect the environment by focusing its resources on the most sensitive land, instead of simply pursuing a large quantity of acres for conservation.

'With high crop prices, this approach to target our most sensitive lands is essential if we want to maintain the substantial benefits of CRP,' Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said."

Tom Polansek reports for Reuters March 5, 2012.

Source: Reuters, 03/05/2012